YMCA of Greater Toronto announces new mentorship program for Black youth

12 August 2021
The charity is launching new YMCA Black Achievers mentorship program dedicated to the advancement of Black youth in the GTA

Toronto – August 12, 2021 – The YMCA of Greater Toronto is excited to announce the launch of a new mentorship program, with the support of The Peter Gilgan Foundation, CIBC and Rogers Communications, dedicated to the advancement of Black youth in the GTA. The YMCA’s Black Achievers mentorship program is designed to broaden horizons and increase support to help Black youth overcome systemic barriers and long-standing challenges including a growing gap in graduation rates and lack of access to Black mentors.

A youth participates in a video conference

The Black Achievers mentorship program aims to provide Black youth with the opportunity to develop academically and socially with the support of Black mentors and role models in weekly virtual connections throughout the 2021-2022 school year. The initiative will initially be targeted to Black youth ages 14 to 19 currently enrolled in high school and residing in the Kingston Galloway, Malvern and Dorset Park neighbourhoods in Scarborough.

According to Statistics Canada, Black youth are less likely than their counterparts to have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree – with young Black males twice as likely to be unemployed or not pursuing an education. These statistics underscore the importance in developing a mentorship program like Black Achievers, so that Black youth can connect and engage with mentors and role models from the community and see attainable possibilities first-hand.

“As issues of anti-Black racism and longstanding systemic discrimination have moved to the front burner over the course of the past year, we’re proud to announce the Black Achievers mentorship program and support Black youth. This program will be valuable to youth in our community and we’re thankful for the support of the generous donors and community partners making it possible to bring this project to life,” says Medhat Mahdy, CEO and President, YMCA of Greater Toronto. “Through meaningful relationships and discussions around personal experiences, current aspirations and employment, we hope participating youth will reap the benefits and support offered through this program.”

“CIBC is committed to helping Canadian youth achieve their ambitions,” said Claudette Knight, Vice President Talent Development, CIBC. “Mentorship programs like Black Achievers play an important part in providing access to opportunities and networks that can help make dreams a reality. We are proud to support programs that will positively impact underserved youth now and into the future.”

“As we work collectively with organizations like the YMCA of Greater Toronto to close gaps and barriers to education for Black youth, we are proud to support the Black Achievers program through our Ted Rogers Community Grants program, which invests annually in the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, Chief Communications Officer and lead for corporate responsibility for Rogers. “Several members of our Black Leadership Council at Rogers and employee resource group Mosaic – who help us foster inclusion and diversity within Rogers – have been working with the Y to develop this important program for Black youth and have already signed up to be mentors in the fall.”

Through weekly meetings starting at the beginning of the upcoming school year in September 2021, participating youth will be introduced to:

  • Black mentors and role models in the community and their experiences at this age,
  • workplace and post-secondary campus exposure through visits and event participation when in-person activities are permitted,
  • life and interpersonal skills as they learn the different pathways to available careers and networking, and
  • a welcoming community of support from participating mentors and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

If you are interested in participating in the YMCA Black Achievers program as a mentor or mentee or want to learn more, please visit ymcagta.org/blackachievers. The YMCA of Greater Toronto values diversity and inclusion. If accommodations are required for individuals to participate, we will arrange reasonable and appropriate accommodations as required.